Twproject is a full featured web based project management software that gives you full visibility and control over your projects.Twproject is also a time tracking software, a bug tracking software, a project planning software.
A project management software like Twproject, to be really effective, has to be used by all the team, so, how can we valuate if and how much the software is really used?
The question is apparently simple, but it hides some pitfalls.
Twproject is a PM software used by different user profiles: Project managers, Workers, Supervisors just to name the best known ones.
Each of these profiles uses different tools, has different approaches and has specific needs. For example, when a “worker” accesses Twproject, he wants to know what to work on. A project manager would like to know how its projects are going. She/he want to know if the team is working at a sustainable load level or is in trouble. So, the CEO (supervisor) want an overall view on open / closed projects, their economic values and in monitoring a portfolio of key projects.
Measuring “usage” with a simple login number or connection time counter would be simplistic and ineffective.
Twproject 7 measure the use of the tool as well as the compliance to some good project management practices.
The processing of this complex data is then summarized in two simple “motivational” widgets that show users’ scores.
A healthy “competition” between users will help to better use Twproject and better manage their projects. It is a not negligible aspect.
In this post we will examine in detail how this new tool works.
To be able to make statistics you need good data. I clarify immediately that the collection of this information takes place within the database of your Twproject. The data is yours and does NOT leave your server. This information serves you, our customers, to know how your users use Twproject and manage their projects, in total respect of privacy. If this feature is not interesting for you, you can simply disable it.
Daily, Twproject collects, for each user, a series of indicators. Real time of use of the tool, planned hours, recorded hours and workable hours are basic indicators, not linked to a concept of “quality”. There are also indicators more related to operations such as the number of todo closed, todo created, chat used etc.. The matching between what planned and what done are more quality oriented. These indicators are valid for all profiles, but are more significant for the operative profiles. Management profiles will find useful expired projects / phases, expired todo, overrun budgets.
UsageHistoryBuilder job carry out this activity .
The collected data are processed daily and the user score calculated using a moving average over n days (with n configurable).
Of course, the importance given to each of the parameters described above depends on how your company works. If it is more “agile”, thus ToDo-oriented, those parameters should have more “weight” than others.
We have therefore made available a tool for configuring these “weights”, here some of those:
The score is calculated as follows: whoever has made the greatest value for a certain indicator takes the “weight”, whoever has made the smallest value still takes some points. Eg: operator “a” has closed 100 ToDo, “b” has closed 30. Since the “weight” for closed ToDo is 100, “a” will take 100, “b” 30.
Note that some weights are negative, ie they are “penalties”. If I have let the ToDo’s “expire”, or rather I am the operator who has let the most expire, I will have a penalty of 100 points. Penalties encourages compliance with the project quality indicators, dates, milestones, budgets, estimates, planning.
Tuning weights over time you can incentivize use and good practices depending on which of them you change. The widgets seen above summarises very well the data. In reality they relies on a collection of information that allows more in-depth analysis.
Technically this task is done by the “UsersScoreBuilder” job.
This tool is meant to be extended and accommodate new “dimensions”, so if you have an idea for some other indicator let us know what you think 🙂
A “to-do list” is a primal yet powerful tool for organizing.
We make lists for all occasions. You start as a child with the wish list for Santa Claus. You are growing up and your list becomes a shopping list, a travel list or a documents list necessary to open a bank account.
Even at work you make lists for goods ordered, for the forthcoming week tasks, for the activities needed to close a project.
What makes lists so attractive?
The immediate answer is “they help us not to forget anything”.
Why you go shopping with a list in hand or we have a paper notebook next to our workstation? “not to forget anything”.
So it seems like we don’t trust our ability to remember too much, but that’s only part of the story.
Do you think that it is the fault of modernity and our hectic life that does not allow us the time to stop and reflect and put ideas together? Unfortunately it is not.
Even Michelangelo, in 1518, had the same problem even though his list was by far more artistic than ours.
The best feature of a list is to “free us from the fear of forgetting“.
Have you ever had, in the middle of the night, a genial idea that will solve an age-old problem? Fear of forgetting it will prevent you from sleeping. So take a sheet of paper, write it down, turn the other side sleep peacefully.
The simple fact of being able to deposit in a safe place (the paper) helps to “unload” the mind.
So the “list” can be a check-list (the travel or shopping list), a container of ideas, but also a list of tasks aka to-do list.
Do To-do lists work?
I was able to experience the power of to-do lists in the home environment. I like doing small repairs, building objects, sewing, recycling etc. I admit I am a DIY fanatic. Unfortunately free time is short and when finally I find a few minutes only complex jobs came to my mind. Then laziness took over and I turn on the TV.
For some years now I have started using Twproject to manage these small activities. I create a private project that starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st (do you know that private projects in Twproject can only be seen by the people who work there and no one else?) on which I register my ToDo’s.
Then when I have a free time, I take my phone, I open Twproject, I take a look at the ToDO list, I choose the one that inspires me (and that is compatible with the time availabl)e and I get to work. If I can’t find it ….. I turn on the TV.
Since using Twproject, or better, its ToDo list, I have done hundreds of repairs, dozens of new items, mending and so on, who had been sadly waiting for years:
ToDO and Project Management
Can we use To Do List for project management? Of course.
“Classic” project management has always considered this unstructured, somewhat simplistic and immature approach. Definitely not suitable for managing complex projects.
The advent of Agile methodologies changed this perception; simplifying we can consider some of them, like Kanban, an empowered to-do list management. This brought to a sort of acceptance of the to-do lists in the classical PM world. But scepticism remains, also due to inadequate tools.
There are several to-do list products on the market that pass themselves off as project management systems. Is it possible that they work well? What are the requirements they should have to get the most out of managing a project?
Let’s see some of them.
To Do List: Basic data
We do not know what data our ToDo will have to contain to be effective. A large descriptive space is a must! A title to ease a compact view of the list will be very useful.
If you have to manage many ToDo’s you must have the possibility to tag them. The teams should be able to create its own types such as “ideas”, “repairs”, “to discuss” etc.. Strong typed types will help defining a common taxonomy about what each ToDo stands for.
In Twproject, you will also find code, impact, severity, priority, estimated duration, reporting date, comments and attachments:
In a simplistic view a ToDo has two states: “to do” or “done”.
In a more complex setting you will need to fit better the business process. It is convenient having the option of multiple states, such as “suspended”, “to be tested“, “boss approval” and so on . This possibility will allow you to better model your Agile project management.
With Twproject you can define as many states you need in order to adapt perfectly to your modus operandi. By defining a state you can tell if it behaves as “closed” or “open”:
You may not know it, but in Twproject, when you close a ToDo you may be asked to enter how long it took to “close” it.
If you will track working times (and therefore the costs) of project, the collection of the closing times of the ToDo’s is an “high quality” information. At the very moment of closing you remember how long it took, you are happy to have closed the activity and therefore you are in the right mood to put accurate information.
If you will track working times (and therefore the costs) of project, the collection of the closing times of the ToDo’s is an “high quality” information.
The fact that entry is quick and easy increases the quality of the information itself.
To Do List: Scope
When working with non-trivial projects, a single ToDo list could soon become very long and difficult to manage. It is necessary that it is possible to break down the “big one” into sub-list or group the ToDo’s.
There are many solutions that can be adopted, but without inventing new ones, the breakdown according to hierarchical structures, well known to PMs, such as the WBS or temporal structures such as Gantt, are the preferable ones. They are preferable as tools designed precisely to give a rough order of execution. It is not necessary to go into too much detail with the structuring: 2-3 levels are more than enough even for moderately complex projects.
ToDo’s are in Twproject the smallest elements of a project and “live” within a project / phase, which makes management very easy.
In this case, navigation will take place through the project and its WBS:
A cross-project summary list can be viewed through filtering criteria (… do you know that all the lists in Twproject use a powerful Query By Example filtering system and that they can always be exported to Excel? If you want to know more see “search in Twproject“.
Twproject is the perfect solution to flawlessly track the activity of our collaborators and monitor the hours spent on each stage of the project
When a team tackles a ToDo list it must have the ability to specify who is responsible for completing a task. Our tool will therefore have to manage the information relating to the assignee.
The assignment can take place according to different criteria; specific skills, less workload, responsibility on the client or on the project, etc.
In particular, it would be important to clearly keep track of who is the applicant for the activity, since not all applicants have the same “weight”.
In Twproject, the assignee and the applicant are always clearly visible:
To Do List: Timing
Typically the listed tasks are performed as ordered, but you should be able to specify the “when”.
With this information, your ToDo list can become a real schedule.
The expected execution date is important for the assignee’s workload, but also for any constraints with dependent activities.
Another aspect is that the activities can be repetitive so the tool should also manage recurring ToDo’s.
Even the date on which an activity was requested can be of great importance when our ToDo are “tickets”. In this case, there could be time constraints for execution based on “severity”.
In Twproject you will always know when a ToDo has been reported, you can specify the expected execution date or enter a recurrence.
Since the ToDo’s “live” within a project / phase, they will have to respect its dates and any dependencies. A project / phase cannot be declared closed if it still has ToDo’s that have not been completed.
If a project is managed through ToDo lists, in Twproject, you can automatically calculate the project progress percentage based on the completed ToDo’s.
To Do List: Management tools
To be truly functional, a ToDo management tool must allow a quick and effortless reorganization of the list.
Sorting: a list cannot transcend the possibility of being sortable. It is essential that you can sort the ToDo’s according to your criteria. Almost all tools allow the drag & drop of ToDo’s.
With Twproject you can order both manually with the D&D but also by acting directly on the columns for greater control:
Then there are some typical activities that it would be necessary to be able to manage on one or many ToDo’s with a few clicks such as assignment.
When distributing tasks among team members it is important that you can easily re-assign the ToDOs.
It will also be important to be able to reclassify via tags, merge similar ToDo’s, move to different lists, change status, assign a date, add comments etc.
Furthermore, the possibility of doing actions on many ToDo’s at once should not be neglected if you intend to use them in environments with a minimum of complexity.
Twproject provides you with a series of “bulk” actions that you can apply with a few clicks:
You will also have two more visual tools for organizing your ToDo’s, the Kanban and the Planner.
The first allows you to organize between states, phases, assignees and severity:
The second allows you to schedule the ToDo’s, i.e. your schedule:
ToDo lists represent an Agile, quick and easy to understand approach, therefore well accepted by work groups. In order to take full advantage of managing multiple projects with heterogeneous work teams, it is important that the tool allows you to enrich your ToDo’s with all the necessary information and provides you with the necessary management and supervision tools.
Twproject combines all these aspects in the best possible way, providing you with a work tool that is very easy to use, but at the same time with professional management tools that can satisfy both the need for immediacy of small companies and the requirements of complex projects with large working groups of large corporates.
Kanban, is a Japanese words which means + or- sign or tag, it is part of a production organization method (called TPS) adopted in the 1950s at Toyota factories.
In project management, the use of Kanban has become a real methodology that is perfectly reflected in the principles of the Agile Methodology.
The Agile movement was born in the field of software development, but many of its principles, tools and methodologies are widely used outside this specific niche.
In particular, in this post we will talk about Kanban, how it works, how we can use it in our projects.
Kanban Board: what it is and how it works
The basic idea is quite simple and consists in arranging on a “board”, the Kanban board, some cards describing the activities to be carried out.
These “activity cards” are arranged in columns according to the stage of production they have reached and moved when an activity changes “state”. Typically the shift occurs from left to right.
Here’s what a kanban board looks like in Twproject:
The immediate advantage of this tool is that all resources engaged in the process are informed, or rather see, the current overall state. Another advantage is the ease of use that does not waste too much time for updating cards.
The column names are specific to the activity of the company applying the Kanban. For example, for a software development project you could use columns like “open, under development, under test, completed, failed”. A small mechanical parts manufacturing company might use “queuing, cad / cam design, machine setup, manufacturing, finishing, shipping, completed, locked”. It is mandatory to be able to configure the columns according to your needs.
Kanban Board and cards
The lead time, i.e. the time needed to make the card pass from the first to the last column, depends on the type of process and can range from a few hours for a Support call center to several weeks for a plastic molding company.
This consideration leads us to investigate what a single card represents.
Also in this case it depends on the process / project in which we use the Kanban; in the cases reported above, for example, a card could be a bug to be solved or a feature to be developed and therefore to be solved in a few hours, just as it could be an entire order of several days for the mechanical company.
Within the same company, I may need different Kanban boards. For example I could have software releases or “epics” on boards dedicated to planning / management use and have team kanban boards for the more operational part. This is why it is important to have a flexible tool that makes it possible in an easy way.
It is therefore important that the cards are simple to use but at the same time capable of carrying a lot of information with them, for example: descriptions, codes, tags, annotations, attached files or images.
Kanban card in Twproject
One kanban card in Twproject is one ToDo; simple and powerful at the same time.
ToDo’s bring with them two additional pieces of information, the assignee and the project / phase that greatly extend the possibilities of the classic kanban.
In Twproject it will be possible to organize the kanban board not only by the classic “open / under development / etc …” status, but also by phase / project, assignee or severity (other groupings are under development).
Here is the classic view by status:
If we order it by project / phase it assumes new potential:
In this case columns are not simple labels, but are the objects dear to project managers with all the information, the potential, the constraints necessary for the management of the most complex projects.
In this case the Kanban acts as a trait d’union between a classic approach (projects, phases, WBS, Gantt, budget etc.) and a more agile one oriented to ToDo.
Twproject is, if not the only one, one of the few tools that allows this versatility, you can have a project created with the classic waterfall methodology, which from a certain depth can instead be managed in an agile way.
Kanban Board for balancing resources’ activities
The grouping by assigned resource is also interesting:
In this case the focus is the balancing of activities, the assignment by skills, the supervision.
This grouping is particularly useful for the team within a project phase in order to assign tasks to themselves.
A last but not less useful grouping is by severity / priority.
It is often used when working with a single “infinite queue”. In this case the work group focuses on completing the high-gravity tasks. Sometimes perception errors or more commonly bad habits cause only the highest priority column to grow. In this case the kanban board helps us to carry out a new “triage” quickly, allowing us to re-distribute the activities correctly. Of course it is advisable to have objective parameters for the assignment of priorities so as not to create this type of situation.
In conclusion, with Twproject, you can manage even complex projects, in an agile way, thanks to the multidimensional kanban board.
Twproject is Agile:
is designed by Agile people developed with Agile methodology to be used by Agile customers
And it is concrete, to give a real answer to the daily problems of project managers and teams who on the one hand want to monitor progress and on the other work with simplicity.
Now that you have discovered such a versatile tool, all that remains is to try it.
The WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) is a “hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to be carried out by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables”, at least that’s how PMBOK5 defines it.
This approach allows you to scheme-out complex projects starting from a “macro” level and gradually breaking down each “phase” into simpler elements. Simpler elements allows a better precision in estimation, management, control and verification. We do not want to enter into the good practices related to the WBS here, but we will focus on how to use it in Twproject. You will find on our blog several articles about it; a good start How to decompose a project: WBS examples
We will create an example project: “My bike”; at this stage we will not worry about dates, resources, types etc. Twproject allows us to create a new project with 2 clicks:
Twproject will automatically assign an unique code to the project (we will return to the topic of auto-coding with a dedicated post) and will assign us as “project manager” (also on this topic there will be a lot to say).
The area highlighted in yellow will contain our WBS. Everything starts by clicking on the “+” circled in orange; with a few clicks our structure will be ready:
We can break down our project without a predefined limit. Usually 4 or 5 levels are enough even for very complex projects.
The WBS allows us to “collapse”, as highlighted, the phases we are not working on, to focus on the phases of interest.
The WBS also allows us to remove phases created by mistake.
As before mentioned, at this stage we did not deal with dates, but with the logical decomposition.
The WBS can organize documents, costs, micro activities (ToDo). The project security configuration will use the WBS structure as well. The WBS is the skeleton of the project!
The WBS will behave like a menu to navigate within the project, by far better than previous Twproject versions.
But the Twproject WBS is not only a project definition tool, but also for a quick check.
In fact, once our project has started and fed with planning data, work done, costs, documentation, our WBS enrich with information.
For example, if our project does not respect the dates we will have alerts on the offending phases.
Note the color of the alerts which for the “Frame set” phase is gray while it is red for the “Braking system” phase.
This means that “Frame set” is not delayed, but keeps one or more phases that are.
Indeed expanding the phase, we see that the late sub-phase is “Seat”:
The same alert logic applies to
– costs in case of budget or estimate overrun – allocations in case of overrun of the working capacity of the resources – on ToDo’s in case of overrun of the planned dates
Twproject’s WBS is a powerful definition, edit and control tool for projects of any size.
Their implementation will always remain a challenge, sometimes overcome, sometimes defeated. Unique methods and solutions, however, will continue to arise in the market and take this area to a new level. It is human nature that leads to evolution and Project Management is no less important.
So let’s see what are the trends in project management for the coming year.
2020 Project Management Trends: Automation and Artificial Intelligence
The first trend of 2020 we want to address is artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is pushing our global society into its fourth industrial revolution.
In digital products and services, artificial intelligence algorithms are employed to customize the products and services of companies in real time to meet market demands.
Real-time scheduling of operations means that organizations can adapt on the fly according to employee availability or customer needs.
Artificial intelligence can also help improve multi-level decision-making within an organization.
Consistency in decision making is achieved much more easily by machines than by people.
The more complex the projects are, the more value can be derived from automated learning strategies to understand the process, risks and results.
Artificial Intelligence research teams are developing automated learning systems to increase a project manager’s decision-making capacity by analyzing data from multiple projects. Previously, the PM used to decide in accordance with the lessons learned, now the trend is that the artificial intelligence will suggest decisions.
2020 Project Management Trends: increasing the commercial value of soft skills
Artificial intelligence and machines can definitely process, learn and visualize the most diverse information, but they lack a key ingredient in the management of successful projects: humanity.
Social skills, such as emotional intelligence and coordination and negotiation skills are increasingly considered to be some of the most valuable professional resources.
This means that as the use of artificial intelligence to manage some parts of the processes becomes more and more prominent, the project manager’s role as an empathic listener, forerunner of needs, expert coordinator, discreet negotiator and motivational leader becomes equally fundamental.
2020 Project Management Trends: an increasing trend towards fusion of methods
The Agile Methodology is no longer truly innovative, but to apply it well is still complicated.
And the Waterfall method, for example, is only suitable for switching from A to B, especially in those cases where the project path and the final result are well defined.
As a result of complex work environments, Agile, Waterfall and a number of different methodologies are often combined.
Organizations are adopting more and more simultaneous planning and flat hierarchies, replacing the linear and traditional method for a mix of methods.
For project managers, the mix of methodologies is a challenge, as it is necessary to recognize which parts of which methodology or combination of them will be relevant to a given case.
For this reason, PMs need to keep up with the latest methodologies and the way they are implemented.
2020 Project Management Trends: the shifting and globalized “gig” economy
Project managers already possess direct knowledge of the ever-increasing gig economy. In many teams we already have gig workers and the growing number of working arrangements and remote collaborations has already begun to affect project management.
More than any other trend in project management, the gig economy has direct and immediate results in the work of a project manager.
There is often a smaller pool of full-time team members within the company who are supported by a widespread mobile network of freelancers.
2020 Project Management Trends: an increasingly competitive market
The margins for organizations are becoming tighter than ever, partly as a result of the commodification of the digital industry.
Customers are expecting more, at a lower cost, and are becoming more and more expert on the subject.
In an increasingly competitive environment and tighter margins, organizations are therefore driven to specialize if they want to survive.
In short, PMs need to keep up with the times and understand market dynamics and customer needs.
Also for PM, it is necessary to develop skills that surpass the competition.
2020 Project Management Trends: the growing relevance of human-centred design
Human-centered design is a way of developing products with people at the heart of the design and the implementation process and can be considered as a way of integrating business and technology based around human needs.
This concept has already existed for several years, but has taken on a key role with the rise of the Agile and Lean principles and their emphasis on product design based on direct user feedback.
As digital products become more prevalent in our lives, organizations are becoming increasingly aware of how to proceed with their design.
Products that meet real needs, ensure the best user experience, present the least risk and have the greatest positive impact on humans are being sought.
Increasingly, companies will therefore be responsible for creating products that meet the needs of users, driven by the vision of customers and their feedback.
Today it is necessary to produce something innovative and with a strong impact, built on empathy towards human needs and desires.
2020 Project Management Trends: a greater attention to data
With new project management tools you can collect large amounts of data, but you also need to use them properly.
From understanding customer needs to retailing risks, analyzing data for important information is a key activity in almost every project.
A PM has to become a sort of data translator so that it can extract the basic information for the optimal execution of the project.
Understanding project management trends for 2020 will help both organizations and project managers to coordinate new and existing business strategies.
Whatever the future trends, the main thing is to understand that the key to success will remain people’s skills and creativity.
These two components will help to create the best project team and create a high quality product, in any industry.
It’s Halloween this night and you, just like a toddler, are scared…not by vampires, witches or creepy mummies but by those projects that will never end in time nor in budget. I know it sounds familiar, but Twproject is here to help with a new fantastic release and a special 15% coupon discount for all those brave project managers who want to fight monsters 🙂
The coupon is valid until the 4th of November so do not waste your time and start organizing your projects better so that you can just focus on candies!
The new release (6.5.65012) includes several bug-fixes and small improvements. The complete lists is available here.
Twproject is out with a small new release including some bug fixes and a new interesting feature.
Twproject 6.5.65011 includes a new bar that can be activated on your Gantt showing task progress over time. You can pick a date, or more than one and see the progress status of your task at that specific date:
You can check the entire list of features/bug fixes in our change log.
A good communication with team is the main method for excellent project management. In fact, effective communication allows a project to have a successful conclusion, but on the other hand, bad communication could be fatal.
The project teams are in a constant state of communication: e-mails, videoconferences, phone calls, messages, face-to-face discussions, and non-verbal interactions.
Whatever the type of media used, project teams can increase the chances of reaching goals if the right communication strategies are developed and if everyone is kept informed about what is happening.
Here are some suggestions for the project manager in order to communicate effectively with the team during the project.
Adopt an “open door” policy
An “open door” policy allows anyone to ask questions and expose concerns and ideas at any time.
This is an important part of building trust within the team. Knowing that it is possible to ask questions about any concern is a great motivation for team members. It makes them feel important and an integral part of the project.
Another suggestion is not only to “open the door” figuratively, but also literally. Removing physical obstacles between employees creates a sense of mutual trust and encourages an open exchange of ideas.
Be open to mutual feedback
Nobody is perfect, so we all need a feedback from time to time.
A criticism or feedback is useful when it is constructive and, to be effective, it must be clear and detailed.
And we must not forget that feedback or criticism, whatever it may be, must be accepted and processed by the person who receives it. A good Project Manager must be ready to carefully examine the feedback received from the team and to take, where necessary, the right measures and / or corrections.
Be clear about the activities so that everyone knows his responsibility
No one can complete an activity if he is not sure what his responsibilities are.
For a project manager, it is essential to make sure that the whole team knows the purpose of the project and that each individual has a clear idea of what exactly is expected of him. In this a RACI matrix can be very useful.
Bringing the team together regularly in order to monitor progress, ask questions, and tackle any problem is another effective way to keep everyone on track. Make sure all team members are aware of their responsibilities within the project.
In addition to organizing role-plays or other workplace activities, it is also possible to organize a dinner (for example once a month).
The goal is to create socialization among team members. When colleagues are comfortable with each other, they communicate better.
The feeling of having a second family at work makes people more willing to work harder towards a common goal.
Give a purpose to coffee breaks
Linked to the previous point and team building: a coffee break allows everyone to interact informally while still in the workplace.
Coffee is the fuel that allows most people to “survive” during working days, so why not make it enjoyable and productive at the same time?
Communication training courses
This can be very effective for improving group communication.
Communication-focused training is not just about basic conversation skills but, depending on the course, it could include presentation skills, writing skills, and training on managerial skills.
Decide which form of communication works best
Different situations require different ways of communication.
For a project that involves team members working remotely, for example, a video conference is an excellent way to keep in touch and exchange information on progress and goals.
For projects with an internal team, face-to-face meetings are often the best method of communication.
In short, depending on the type of project and team, the most efficient form of communication could be different. Therefore, it is important to choose it well.
Use project management software for greater transparency
Project management software enables transparency across the team, giving the possibility to monitor progress, collaborate with other members, and check details and deadlines.
With a simplified system, everyone has access to project specifications and can leave comments that others can see. Moreover, a chat inside the software, will greatly facilitate the communication between members.
Identify group leaders
In most project teams, there may be several leaders (below the project manager) who coordinate team subgroups.
It is important to make clear from the start who those leaders are, let the team members, but also the project manager himself, know exactly who to contact in case of problems or questions.
This process distributes work more equitably among leaders and reduces stress on individual team members.
Understanding diversity problems
When people of different nationalities, ideologies, and languages collaborate, the ideas that come from them can create something really special.
But diversity does not come without its challenges: accents, dialects, and cultural dialogues can sometimes lead to confuse communication and create misunderstandings.
To avoid these difficulties, team leaders, together with the project manager, must work on a strategy to minimize these problems.
Identify the strengths of each individual
Not all people like to communicate in the same way.
Visual people, for example, tend to prefer written forms of communication, such as e-mail or software, whereas other type of people benefit more from a phone call, video chat, or face-to-face meetings.
Taking note of the fact that everyone is different and prefers a different form of communication, not only does it improve the spread of information, but it allows us to recognize people as individuals and not as mere numbers.
Be open and honest with team members
Perhaps the most effective way to improve interpersonal communication in the workplace is to spread a sense of trust among team members.
Transparency is the key. If team members feel that some information is kept secret, any trust that has built up over time goes away.
Obviously, some sensitive information must be kept secret, but when it comes to something related to team members, they have the right to know.
The project manager must therefore be open and honest with them and ask them to do the same.
Mutual trust is important in every relationship, including professional relationships.
Take advantage of mobile devices
Nowadays, almost everyone has a smartphone or other mobile device connected to the network.
So why not take advantage of the opportunities that technological progress gives us?
Some software solutions for project management, for example, can offer an app for project managers and team members, with which it is possible to stay up to date on project developments in real time. In Twproject, for example, you can use the chat.
Make an anonymous survey
In many workplaces, it can be difficult for team members to always be honest.
In order to understand the needs and concerns of the team, a solution can be that of an anonymous survey.
In this way, it will be possible to collect all the concerns that are not directly communicated and find out possible problems that the project manager could not know.
People are more likely to be honest if they know their opinions are and will remain anonymous.
Take responsibility for errors
The best managers are those who assume their responsibilities, even – and above all – when it comes to errors.
Everyone makes mistakes, so by confessing his own fault, a project manager will show to be a human just like his employees.
Using these suggestions, you can bring the team together, improve communication and, in general, make the workplace a better place.
These factors lead to an improvement in the quality of the project, better control over the budget, and greater customer satisfaction.
When the workplace becomes a second home and colleagues become a second family, this cohesion translates into maximum team productivity.
Precisely for this reason, we want to speak about this subject again in order to better clarify some points that concern the level of detail of the time schedule or, in other words, how deep we must go into details in order to predict the timing of the project.
The preparation of a time schedule should be carried out within a formal structure, in which clear lines of authority and responsibility should be established. Let’s start by seeing what the steps are.
Definition of the activity: involves the identification and definition of those activities that must be carried out to achieve the goals.
Sequencing of activities: involves the accurate identification of the constraints and relations between activities and establishes the order in which these will be carried out.
Estimate of the duration of the activity: determination of the time required to complete the activities that make up the program.
Development planning: involves the development of realistic start and end dates for each activity.
Control planning: identify program changes and manage actual changes to the program.
The time schedule is therefore fundamental for the correct execution of the planning and control functions of the project management.
The planning phase of a project contributes to the development of detailed plans and budgets and the identification and allocation of the resources required in all project activities.
Moreover, during this phase, a series of integrated programs are developed at multiple levels that link all the activities of the time schedule, showing their logical relationships and possible constraints.
The level of detail developed for these programs depends on the scope and risk of the project.
This process provides a hierarchy of functional and layered programs that can be useful for monitoring the progress of the project.
The details of a time schedule
So let’s see what are the different levels of detail that a schedule can present.
Level 1: The Project Master Schedule (PMS).
This is usually reported in one single page, in which the main activities of the project are highlighted, the milestones, and the key results for the entire project.
It is used to summarize project planning in reports and other documents when more detailed planning is not required.
Frequently developed by the “client” as part of his first feasibility studies for the project and then maintained by the contractor; it can be used to assist in decision making.
Level 2: Summary Master Schedule (SMS).
It describes the overall project divided into main components by area and is used for higher level management reports.
It will include Level 1 information, but in more details in order to show the activities by area.
It should demonstrate the guiding path for the structures and the main process systems based on the purpose of the project.
The relevant public of this type of program includes – but is not limited to – general managers, sponsors, and project managers.
Level 3: Project Coordination Schedule (PCS)
This program is a summary of planning activities and is generally developed by the main contractor or project team during the initial planning stages.
Level 3 planning covers the entire project and is used to support the monthly report.
This includes all the major milestones, the main design, procurement, construction, verification, and start-up elements.
During the project execution phase, this planning defines the general critical path and is the main coordination tool for the project as a whole.
Level 4: Project Working Level Schedule
Level 4 presents the detailed plan of the work that needs to be done, where each part is an expansion of a part of the Level 3 program.
This is the program that shows the activities that must be performed by the project team.
The dates generated by the activities included in this program represent the expected start and completion of the project.
The level 4 program can cover the entire project or part of the project, depending on the size and complexity of the project.
A critical factor is to keep this type of planning in such a dimension that can be easily managed, updated, and validated.
The recipients of this type of program are mainly project managers with their teams.
Level 5: Detail Schedule
This program presents the further subdivision of the activities included in Level 4.
In short, this is a program used to map the detailed activities necessary to coordinate daily work in specific areas.
Level 5 schedules are developed by workforce supervisors to plan and coordinate their work in detail.
These level 5 programs are generally replaced every 1 or 2 weeks, depending on the complexity of the job.
Important notes on the level of detail in a time schedule
Level 1 and 2 programs are normally developed as part of the project’s pre-feasibility studies.
Only in the case of very complex projects, there will be a complete planning of Level 1 and Level 2. Generally, less complex projects have just level 2 planning.
If the project is relatively small, the level 3 program is expanded into a level 4 program to coordinate the execution of the work. In large projects with multiple Level 4 schedules, Level 3 planning is maintained as overall project planning.
Each project requires a level 4 program to coordinate the project work day by day. However, the overall size of this program must be “manageable” and focused on work in a single area. Therefore, Level 3 planning becomes essential for the overall coordination of the project.
In conclusion, each level of a time schedule has its specific function, also based on the complexity that a project presents.
It is important for a project manager to be able to “navigate” between the different levels and to be at the right level of detail in order to bring a project to its success. To do this, it is essential that a project management software such as TWproject is available with which to manage each time program level.
We are finally out with a new great release (6.5.65009). Among lots of improvements and fixes, we include 3 new fantastic features: a dedicate page for resource attendance, 1 new widgets that will enrich your dashboard and last but not least a new way to link a specific file storage to your entire task tree.
You can download the new release here, it includes some database schema updates so do a complete backup before upgrading.
A new widget will help you having an idea of the load of your team, you can also change tho workgroup checking the load of different resources.
The other great feature we added in this new release is a dedicated page for attendance overview.
For this purpose we changed the event type behavior. Since this new release you will not have the unavailable check anymore in your event, but you will need to specify a type, types are now marked as unavailable or not:
So, for example, to create an unavailable event for holidays, you will need a holidays type marked as unavailable.
The update procedure will create automatically a new event type called”unavailable” and will assign it to all events marked that way. After you create the correct events types, like permit or trip, you should change events, at least those in the future, with the correct types.
To help you in this procedure we also changed the event list page to bulk change types.
Thanks to this the attendance overview will look like this:
You will have the list of your event types with relatives events, a specific row for worklogs (red if missing) and one specific row for overtime: calculated according to your work settings, worklog inserted and unavailable events.
Task File Storage
The first step to assign a file storage dedicated to your tree is to create it (tools -> file storages).
Once You have it (copy the filestorage code) you can go in the dedicated section from admin -> project defaults:
In this case FT is the code of the file storage that I have created before, a folder in my file server I pick to save projects file:
Thanks to this simple step, from now on you will have on your project/tasks a dedicated folder for your files. The system will create a dedicated folder for every node of the project tree, and the name of this folder will follow the specification you insert, in my example I chose the task code.
The three-year plan AGID (Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale, as it is often called) is officially known as the Three-Year Plan for Information Technology in the Public Administration.
This is a strategic document, always published in September, which is a guide and support for digital transformation in Italy. A digital transformation also in line with what the European Union Action Plan for eGovernment 2016-2020 predicts.
What is the purpose of the AGID Triennial Plan and why do we deal with it?
This plan serves as a structured and strategic planning of technological investments in the Public Administration scheduled for the three-year period 2019-2021.
Obviously, we are dealing with this because the implementation of a project management software falls within the AGID Plan. Can you imagine how useful it could be for the economies of the country to have a centralized place for the realization and control of public administration projects?
The Plan, as we have said, will be valid for three years (2019-2021), but before being implemented, it must be approved by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and signed by the President.
Thanks to the solutions provided by this document, public administrations can work and invest to offer more effective services to citizens and businesses.
The focal points are mainly the use of agile methodologies, a mobile approach, safe and reliable application interfaces, and open source.
Digital development in the country is therefore organized, structured and integrated following this three-year plan. But let’s try to see the application steps in detail:
At the national level, the standards and general rules are defined. In addition, platforms are built in order to optimize investments in this field.
The individual public administrations then develop the services according to their own needs and specific case – for example, the autonomous regions will function differently than the others.
Individual companies plan long-term investments by seeking to exploit new opportunities and innovative national or regional platforms.
The goals of the Three-year Plan
The AGID Three-Year Plan has several goals, including:
Implementing a shared strategy in the country following the goals of the Digital Agenda in Italy.
Supporting public administrations in offering digital services that meet the needs of citizens and businesses.
Facilitating the functioning of the market thanks to best practices and standards, also involving private entities in the implementation of integrated services.
Introducing a new vision about digital transformation in our country.
As can be easily deduced from the topic, this plan is constantly evolving over time.
Specifically, the three-year AGID 2019-2021 Plan envisages four changes compared to the previous one. Let’s see them together:
The inclusion of the latest changes envisaged by the Digital Administration Code – CAD – and the recent European directives and regulations about digital innovation.
The strengthening of the concept of Cloud for the Public Administration – cloud first – which allows to ensure a complete circulation of data and a new interoperability between systems.
Particular attention to the issues of open innovation and smart landscape. With the first concept, we mean a new approach according to which companies no longer rely only on their internal resources, but also on ideas and solutions coming from outside, in order to compete better in the market. While the smart landscape concept, sometimes known also as Smart City, means a user-friendly city, that is easily usable and understandable by citizens, with the aim of improving the quality of life.
Application of digital by default and once only principles: Administrations must learn to provide digital services as the first option – ie. digital by default – and should avoid asking citizens and businesses for information they already know – ie. once only.
Who takes care of the digital transition?
The purpose and goals of the three-year AGID Plan are now, very probably, clear; but who is in charge of making this digital transition?
There are three main actors:
The digital transition manager.
The Purchasing Manager and the person in charge of personal data protection.
The offices in charge.
This is then not a solitary project within the Public Administration, but a process where different experts must be involved and should work together, for the good of the citizens.
In addition, a large monitoring action must be taken in order to evaluate the results of the introduction of these new services and evaluate any possible change.
How do you read the Three Year Plan?
The 2019-2021 Three Year Plan, like the previous one, is structured in three parts.
Above all, the first and the third give a summary of the strategies that Public Administrations are expected to implement.
The second part is much more technical.
Part 1 – Frame of reference
Here the European and national regulatory context is illustrated and the strategic model is mapped.
Part 2 – Technological and governance components
Divided in turn into:
Lines of action
Part 3 – Final considerations and address notes
Here are reported the data of the Public Administration expenditure as regards the digital transformation.
Also, the actions that the public administrations will have to implement from the digital point of view are listed.
To conclude, the AGID Triennial Plan offers a framework and a “guide” to the digital world for the entire ecosystem of the Public Administration.
It is therefore hoped that with its help it is possible to positively continue a digital transformation in line with the European one, but above all responding to the needs of citizens and businesses.
There are many interesting events organized every year by the PMI Central Italy Chapter, but the two events that are under international attention and which will surely be worth following will be:
InNOWvation: Creating the Future, an international event, in which innovation in planning will be the main theme. This event will be held on the 13th and 14th June 2019, in Rome, and you can find all the details at this link: https://innowation.pmi-centralitaly.org/;
The 3rd National Project Management Forum scheduled for mid-October
PE Award Assessment Training Lisbon 2019 – Lisbon, Portugal
A three-day training program organized by the IPMA – International Project Management Association for potential PE Award assessors.
Much attention is devoted to the evaluation process itself, including the ability to interview and report.
Before this training session in Lisbon, there are also two other sessions in the form of webinars that are carried out online.
This conference, sponsored by Hyde Park Solutions Ltd., will explore how the profession is delivering value in a changing world, following the “Delivering Value in a Transforming World” macro-theme.
Key speakers will discuss how project managers can take control of their projects and provide more benefits using innovative methods, tools and techniques.
The three streams this year will focus on adapting to develop a career, working smarter and how to develop personal performance.
The appointment is for May 2nd, 2019: https://www.apm.org.uk/apm-conference/
Congress PMI® EMEA 2019 – Dublin, Ireland
The PMI – Project Management Institute is the leading association for project, program or portfolio management professionals.
The PMI® EMEA 2019 Congress will provide the concept, skills, and behavior needed in order to make a difference in project management.
More than three days, in which the global perspectives on this fast-moving profession will be heard.
The congress will take place from the 13th to the 15th May 2019 in Dublin, Ireland: https://www.pmi.org/emea-congress/registration-options
SUPSI Project Management Forum – Lugano, Switzerland
The second edition of the Project Management Foruma – PMF will take place on the 23rd and 24th May 2019 at the Palazzo di Congressi in Lugano.
The program of this new edition of the PMF has not been published yet, but this event was created to contribute to the development of knowledge and the dissemination of culture in the field of project management.
Surely, even in 2019, there will be an interesting program. More information will be published here http://www2.supsi.ch/cms/pmforum/pmf-2019/
A new Twproject release is out today, with some small enhancement and some bug fixes. This release is free for all plan and does not contain any schema update. For the complete list of changes take a look out our change log.
This new release includes a new rich HTML editor that you can use for sending messages, writing notes and meeting minute.
We also introduced a new repository type to organize uploded twproject document in folder by day/month/year and a new bar in task statistics for task’s helth.
The list of small improvements is rich as well so just go take a look!
Organizational process assets (OPA) are valuable information, documents and knowledge tools that the organization accumulates over time.
In a simpler way, we can say that they are one thing: lessons learned from the past.
In other words, while the organization is involved in various projects, it gradually gains and develops more Organizational Process Assets. These are the history of the company itself and of its projects.
Organizational Process Assets include documentation that serves as an archive or repository of the company.
An asset is something of value and the assets of a mature company are priceless. It took a long time, human and economic resources to achieve them.
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It is therefore easy to understand how the organizational process assets correspond to a real treasure in project management.[/av_notification]
Here is a list of the Organizational Process Assets normally used and that can be divided into two categories.
Processes and procedures
Basic knowledge of the company
The first category deals with the processes and procedures needed to carry out the work, which includes the following:
The second category includes basic company knowledge for storing and retrieving information:
A project manager should normally include all this information during project planning.
What are the advantages of organizational process assets in project management?
As mentioned, the organizational process assets consist of what the company has acquired over time and are therefore very valuable especially considering project planning.
Documents, policies or procedures that are part of the organizational process assets are used as input for most planning processes.
For example, if the company is trying to start a new project very similar to a project already carried out, the documentation of lessons learned about the past project will provide a lot of useful information for the new project.
In short, the assets will act as inputs for the new project.
The resources of the organizational process can also be advantageous in terms of saving time in the case of hiring a new employee.
If all that is connected to the role of the new employee is well documented, it will be really easy for this new team member to start working quickly and effectively. Obviously, the same thing will happen in the case of a change of role within the company.
At the end of each project, during the closing process, the new lessons learned will be collected within the organizational process assets and will help in future projects.
First of all, come the lessons learned by the team, and after those the evaluations of customers and stakeholders.
The format of the assets can be different depending on the project or the type of organization.
It is possible to use databases, sometimes specific, for the collection and documentation of information or these can be collected in paper format.
It is important to keep in mind that the organizational process assets are not only fundamental for the project management, but also for the general management of a company. In fact, they represent its historical basis and its experiences.
In conclusion, and we repeat the concept, the organizational process assets can be considered a real treasure when it comes to project management.
These exist to make suggestions, to be used, to develop and grow further, from project to project.
In fact, there are some areas where projects and processes can overlap (which is why confusion arises), but there is also an essential difference that impacts the way in which the activities are managed in one case or the other.
Project vs. process: the definition
A recognized definition is that:
Projects concern actions never done before, while processes are actions that are done repeatedly.
A project is about creating something new or implementing a change. On the other hand, a process is designed to create value by repeatedly executing an activity.
In a project, the goals and plans can be modified by the stakeholders. The processes, on the other hand, are established procedures for work and can be generally modified only with planning and investments.
In fact, a project is ideally needed to change an established process within an organization.
A project is temporary because it has a defined beginning and end date, and therefore defined scope and resources.
Moreover, a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to achieve a singular goal.
Projects are designed to create changes.
On the other hand, processes are designed to resist change because they establish a repeatable and executable workflow.
Project vs. process: the common points
Both processes and projects aim to achieve something through a sequence of planned activities.
In general, they both need teams and resources that can execute them.
Moreover, they can coexist, as in the case where people work on processes and have a project going on.
Project vs. process: the differences
It should be underlined that between projects and processes there is a significant difference: the frequency with which the activity is repeated.
The projects are in fact one-off, even if there are cases in which the projects become repeatable.
In this situation, if the project becomes repetitive, it becomes a process.
The processes are in fact repeatable and create value by producing a given output on demand.
The fact that the activities are repeated means that it is possible to efficiently cushion the planning effort thanks to the many repetitions.
Instead, in the case of an already planned project, the effort must be repaid by the outcome of the single time it is performed.
When dealing with a project, much of the effort goes into the initial planning. After this step, the effort is focused on checking that everything is following the plan.
The process works differently. In fact, you can review the result from a process and learn from it, you can make changes to the process and you can experiment and see what works and what does not.
The “management effort” is less focused on keeping things on track and is rather oriented to learn how to optimize the process.
So this is the big difference regarding the “management effort” in projects and processes.
Further differences between process and project
In addition to this, projects and processes are supervised differently, making most of the tools incompatible for managing both of them.
Projects are supervised by a primary authority, usually a project manager, who guides the project towards its goal.
The processes are instead managed by all the people involved in the workflow in progress. In other words, they are everyday actions that are formalized with the goal of improving overall efficiency and productivity.
Project management is a consolidated methodology for managing and executing changes within an organization.
It is interesting to see that the project management itself is a defined and repeatable process. Ultimately, all the work involves a process and the project management functions in the same manner.
The correct management of the project proceeds according to well defined principles and procedures that allow to manage organizational changes and new initiatives.
It is simply a very specific and carefully designed process that is repeated and performed every time the company makes a major change and is doing something new for the first time.
The process of implementing these changes is called project management and each change must be managed as a project.
Projects, projects and Twproject
All of what has been said so far shows that there are several reasons for extending project management with processes; often projects or processes are presented as alternatives for the organizational needs of the team.
With Twproject you can get benefits from both, in an integrated solution.
Surely it has happened over time to repeat some of the company’s projects and to standardize them and transform them into “business processes”.
Well, in our software you can find the solution to this situation …. And many others!
In TwProject, the integrated tool for managing business processes greatly expands the possibility of modeling in relation to the project tree. It improves usability even for complex cases, keeping the organization based on the project.
In our meetings with customers we often present two ways according to which they can model their business processes:
with the projects, aimed at giving a minimal structure to work and collect a maximum amount of feedback, worklog, etc.,
using business process models, which are workflows. Workflows are more rigid but more accurate. They are more complex to plan but often easier for the end user, who has just to say “go ahead” on their tasks when this is the case.
In conclusion, we can say that there is no difference in importance between a project and a process. In fact, everyone plays an important role in achieving goals within an organization and it is necessary to make sure that they are both used appropriately.
Processes are continuous and repeated procedures that help to achieve business goals, while projects are ways to change processes, launch new products, or otherwise make changes within the organization in order to develop the goals in new ways.
Did you already know the difference between a project and a process? Are there any further differences that you consider relevant? Give us your opinion.
For the project manager, this is probably the most difficult thing to put into practice.
The biggest problem faced by most managers is, in fact, the inability to abandon part of their work in favor of third parties.
Sometimes you feel so involved in the project and in meeting the deadlines that one can refuse the help of other people.
At other times, it is feared that no one else has the skills or abilities necessary to perform the job effectively. In both cases, we end up overloading ourselves and, paradoxically, moving away from the positive outcome of the project itself.
This is why learning to “let go” becomes fundamental for the success of the project.
But as in all things, the beginning may seem so complicated that is postponed.
“This project is too important … for this time I complete it, next time maybe I will delegate …” (And next time never comes.)
Then a suggestion in order to begin with the process is to start with small steps, thus delegating only the smallest and most basic activities, and then progress.
Delegating project activities : Establish a priority system
Obviously, this system will vary based on experience, sector and types of activities that are normally managed.
Generally speaking, however, it can be helpful to create categories, based on the degree of effort required by a task and the degree of skill.
The category with the highest skills should contain activities that the project manager will have to perform in the first person, while those in the less specialized categories can be delegated.
The degree of commitment is a good reference point in order to understand which are the most important activities to delegate: for example, delegating responsibility for a task of high intensity and low skill will save a lot of time for the project manager.
In order to define the right approach the matrix that Eisenhower, or Covey Matrix, is very interesting and we will discuss about it in a future article.
What we wanted to create in TWproject (in line with this aspect) is the possibility to plan the right priority for each assignment.
Thanks to this the PM can see the assignments for the week, change the priority or remove the points of change: and can do it for every resource involved in the workgroup.
And not only that: Twproject shows the priority assignments wherever possible, even for the individual participant. In this way each component of the project is able to display and monitor the priorities of his assignments.
Delegating project activities : Evaluate the strengths of the team and employees
A project manager should know each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, including his current and potential range of skills.
When delegating, you need to evaluate your team and assign tasks to anyone with the skills most relevant to that activity.
It would seem obvious, but the mistake in which many fall is to delegate to those with the lightest workload or where is most convenient.
Furthermore, it is also important to be consistent. For example, delegating the same type of task to the same team member will increase that individual’s attitude to perform those tasks.
Delegating project activities : Always include instructions
Although the process in the eyes of a project manager seems obvious, you need to make sure to include the instructions for each activity that will be delegated.
If you have specific preferences about how the task should be carried out, this information must be included. If there is a deadline or strict targets, this need to be clear.
Including simple details and instructions from the beginning will avoid much of the communication gap and will allow the colleague to perform the tasks effectively.
Here, then, inserting a specific document, visible only to the operator with the indications of the activity takes only a short time with Twproject, but its benefit is lasting.
This proactive strategic action will definitely be appreciated by the collaborators.
Delegating project activities : Teach new skills
The lack of someone in the team who can perform a certain activity does not mean that work can not be delegated.
Have you ever thought about it?
Most skills can be learned, so do not be afraid to teach these skills as part of the delegation process.
Even if the initial assignment of the first tasks will take more time than is actually saved, this must be seen as an investment.
By transferring these skills, it will be possible to assign all similar activities to that individual in the future, thus saving more time in the long run.
Delegating project activities : Trusting is good, communicating is better
Once a task has been delegated, it is right to trust the collaborator.
This will allow the person to do the job in a serene way.
However, do not be afraid to intervene from time to time and verify that the activity moves as planned.
For example, if the delegation has been done a week ago, it is fair to trust that the team member is working on the task, but activating direct communication is not a wrong step.
This encourages trust and respect within the team and helps to prevent interruptions in communication or understanding.
Delegating project activities : Use feedback
Feedback is the most important part of the delegation process and works in both directions.
If the collaborators have done well a task, it is good to thank them; if the work was not done in the best way, it is good to criticize them constructively in order to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
Likewise, team members must also share their feedbacks and opinions on how the delegation process is working.
This is a fundamental moment in order to determine if the project manager is providing enough information and if the right activities are assigned to the right people.
Delegation is not always easy, but the sooner you start, the sooner you will develop the skills to do it effectively.
At first glance, delegation may seem more problematic than it actually is, but by effectively delegating it is possible to vastly expand the amount of work that can be offered.
Do you regularly delegate in your work? How do you manage the delegation process? Tell us about your experience.
Agile and Lean are two popular methods in the project management world that help teams deliver faster, more sustainable results.
However, the differences and similarities between these two methodologies are often not clear.
Even the terms themselves are often used in the wrong manner, as synonyms to describe a particular set of practices.
For a project manager, it is important to understand the differences and similarities between Lean and Agile methodology in order to guarantee the correct application and to obtain an effective and efficient organization.
“Lean” generally refers to a set of knowledge called more specifically “Lean Manufacturing“, developed in Japan in the ’50s and’ 60s by an engineer named Taiichi Ohno.
Lean Manufacturing has transformed many traditional concepts including:
Production should be based on demand and not on supply. It is simply about doing something when someone wants it and orders it, rather than doing it first, hoping then that someone will need it;
The production is more efficient if performed in small lots in order to exploit economies of scale;
Taking the time to focus on quality also increases production and efficiency;
Employers, not managers, are responsible for defining their method of working;
Rather than executing predefined tasks over and over again, workers must continually improve their way of working (the so-called “Kaizen”).
These ideas, at that time, seemed to be heretical in the eyes of the American and Western industry, but the Japanese industrial organizations that adopted these philosophies quickly outperformed their “colleagues”.
In short, the Lean methodology says to implacably eliminate all that does not add value.
Eliminating waste means eliminating unnecessary meetings, tasks and documentation, but also means eliminating inefficient methods of working, such as multitasking.
The Lean methodology also places a very strong emphasis on what is called “the system”, i.e. the way the team works as a whole.
Work should always be seen from a higher level in order to ensure that the process are really optimized.
This methodology says to respect the fact that the people who do the job are those who know how to do it at the best. Once they receive what they need to be effective, they must be left “alone” and trusted.
What is the Agile methodology?
Agile refers to a set of values and principles set out in the Agile Manifesto.
The Agile Manifesto basically underlines the following aspects:
Interaction of individuals on tools and processes
Collaboration with potential customers in the negotiation of project results
Respond to change with a plan
The Agile methodology is very similar to the Lean methodology and for this reason you will see many similar points between these two.
The Agile methodology, in general, is more based on development rather than production, we use for example Twproject to manage all the features we insert in our software release.
Agile as you need it
In Twproject you find everything you need to manage your projects in an agile way keeping everything under control.
The Lean methodology also says that every process should be continuously inspected and adapted in order to improve it. This method is therefore very focused on continuous improvement, the so-called Kaizen.
The Agile methodology also provides for regular checks of the results and of the working method in order to evaluate possible improvements.
Another similarity between Lean and Agile is the focus on cooperation between employees.
In both methodologies, the people – the workers – who perform the tasks are more important than the tools they use.
When it comes to Agile and Lean, nothing is more important than the final result. This result must create value for the customer and is the only goal of the development process.
The Agile methodology allows the client to constantly adapt his needs, while the Lean provides for the manufacture of the product in such a way that there is no waste. In any case, the customer must get exactly what he expects.
But Agile and Lean are also very different
The main difference is that the Agile methodology concerns the optimization of a development process, while the Lean method concerns the optimization of a production process.
In production we generally have a predefined product and we want to produce as many high quality products as possible, in the most economic way possible.
In production, variation and rework are negative and expensive, while in a development process they are good and optimal.
Indeed, in the development process the factors are continuously reviewed and are changed according to new information or feedback.
It is no coincidence that Lean Management was born in the industrial sector with the intention of making production systems more efficient, while the Agile methodology was born in the creative and software development environment.
In the first it is important that processes work in such a way that no waste occurs. This ultimately translates into a final product that is produced as efficiently as possible.
In the second situation, instead, the development of prototypes is foreseen, which are first tested and evaluated in order to then develop the final product.
But the differences between Lean and Agile are not over.
The Lean methodology is often applied to improve processes in all organizations. On the other hand, the Agile methodology is applied within a team, often composed of no more than a dozen people.
So Lean or Agile, can a software help?
It is difficult to say which methodology is better. This is something that people must understand for themselves and also depends on the organization and the type of project that must be developed.
Both methods are strictly interconnected, everything revolves around the focus on customers and giving them the product they want in the most efficient way possible.
This is way a project management software should not force in one methodology but should let you use both, managing even different projects in a different way.
Twproject let’s do this, following YOUR way of work but giving you all the tools for implementing these approaches.
Each method has its strengths and weaknesses and it is necessary to know the characteristics of both in order to be able to evaluate them.
In our experience, success and productivity are linked to how you manage two aspects of work management:
Carefully model the complexities of your work environment – and here, of course, Twproject assists you perfectly
Bring this complexity to something simple, light, quickly manageable and upgradeable by the individual user.
Twproject let’s you have the best from both methodology, try it now!
Top performers represent the elite troops of any organization. Few, highly esteemed and sometimes difficult to manage, they represent a great corporate value.
Studies have shown that top performers, on average, reach 400% more than the average employee in the companies in which they work.
Let’s try to analyze them better.
The characteristics of a top performer
[av_font_icon icon=’ue808′ font=’entypo-fontello’ style=” caption=” link=” linktarget=” size=’40px’ position=’left’ color=’#dd8d2d’ av_uid=’av-3cfp6pu’][/av_font_icon]Positivity: the top performers tend to have a positive attitude towards everything.
They believe that through hard work, concentration and persistence there is little they can not accomplish.
This vision not only helps them overcome difficult situations, but also inspires the people around them to support them in their missions.
[av_font_icon icon=’ue808′ font=’entypo-fontello’ style=” caption=” link=” linktarget=” size=’40px’ position=’left’ color=’#dd8d2d’ av_uid=’av-2yfcw6a’][/av_font_icon]Having a growth mentality: top performers are always looking for ways in order to learn new skills, refine existing ones and learn from their mistakes.
This mentality allows them to find innovative solutions to the most complicated problems and makes them also highly flexible and adaptable.
In short, they follow the concept “you never stop learning”.
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They live to accomplish things and want to demonstrate to themselves and others that they can complete the most demanding tasks and projects.
In general, they do not waste time in chatter, but they focus on doing.
[av_font_icon icon=’ue808′ font=’entypo-fontello’ style=” caption=” link=” linktarget=” size=’40px’ position=’left’ color=’#dd8d2d’ av_uid=’av-1wyh80y’][/av_font_icon]Self-taught: the drive to reach the goals and to act comes from the deep and it is almost never necessary to encourage them.
They have their own agenda and are ready to show themselves and others what they can do.
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You may receive e-mails, reports, questions and worksheets at impossible times, on weekends and on public holidays (sent from them)
Their drive to progress, improve and complete things regardless of time and public holidays.
Moreover, their performances are not sporadic, they are continuous and consistent over time.
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Getting constant and constructive feedback is a fundamental part of this process, and they expect it.
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Top performers management
Once we have seen the characteristics that, on average, we find in all the top performers, let’s now see how a project manager can deal with them.
As we have mentioned, a top performer can be difficult to manage, but with the following suggestions it will certainly be easier to establish a good working relationship.
Agree upon clear goals and align expectations
With top performers it is essential to be clear when defining goals.
These goals should be agreed on both sides and be measurable.
It is possible to use a framework, such as the SMART one, in order to both agree on specific, measurable, responsible, relevant and binding goals.
In general, however, as well as for any worker, it is necessary to ensure that the goals are ambitious, but not unattainable.
In this case, in fact, even a top performer could quickly lose motivation and confidence towards himself, towards the boss, in the project and in the company in general.
Offer them the tools in order to succeed
The role of the project manager is to set up a strategy, provide direction and give employees the resources they need in order to succeed.
It is therefore important to ensure that the top performers within the team have the tools they need (people, budget, training, etc.).
Get out of the way (Let them be free)
Once agreement is reached on the goals and the necessary tools are provided, a manager must leave the top performers completely free to act.
These high-level employees love their freedom and autonomy to do things the way they want. If they need help, they will ask for it.
If the manager continues to disturb them, they will feel frustrated and the situation could quickly get worse.
Top performers are extremely allergic to non-productive meetings, whatever they are.
It is therefore necessary to make sure that you have a clear agenda and know how to manage meetings in a productive way.
The “1 to 1” meetings should help to find out what obstacles the top performers are facing, where they need help, if they need more resources, or if there are important changes that could affect their priorities.
The 1-1 is also a great opportunity to provide constructive feedback, highly appreciated by top performers, as said before.
These meetings can also be an opportunity to make sure that the top performer is focused on the “right” projects. He could, in fact, be distracted by other requests or new projects that awaken his interests.
Provide growth opportunities
As explained above, growth is like oxygen for top performers.
The growth can come from online courses, work on part time projects in other teams or even attend a part time course at a local university.
A lack of clear growth opportunities can be particularly frustrating for top performers. It often becomes a reason why they look for their future elsewhere.
Gather players of the same level
One of the best ways to motivate top performers is to surround them with other au pair workers.
This is one of the main reasons why people stay in companies like Google or Amazon.
Top performers want to surround themselves with others of the same caliber. They want to be able to learn from them and improve the overall success of the team.
Encourage them to decompress
These people are like high-performance sports cars, they will continue to go to the maximum, as long as possible, until they run out of gasoline.
The problem is that some of them can stress a lot and even suffer from burnout.
As a manager, it is important to pay attention on how they feel, both physically as well as psychologically.
Having “burned” one of them is not only unpleasant for the person, but also means increasing and complicating the workload of the rest of the team that can no longer rely on the driving engine.
Work to trace a path for career advancement
Top performers are willing to invest more time and energy than many other collaborators, but they are also often more demanding and more ambitious.
With these people, it is important to discuss regularly on the progress of work role and on a possible increase of role with tangible and agreed metrics that must be respected by both parties.
It is therefore necessary to ensure that these progress metrics are in line with human resource policies. It will also be necessary to ensure that there is an internal support when the moment of promotion arrives.
Finding and hiring top performers is certainly difficult, keeping these people loyal to the company is even more so.
We hope these suggestions can make this process a little easier.
Have you ever found yourself in front of a top performer? Did you manage him/her? What were the most complicated situations you experienced in this sense? Tell us about your experience.
The first step to create a WBS is to bring the team together.
Regardless of whether the team works in an office or remotely, it is essential that members participate in identifying derivables.
Collaborators must know exactly what is happening.
The project manager must also assemble the key documents of the project in order to start the development of the Work Breakdown Structure: the project charter, the problem that the project will solve, the scope definition, the documentation that refers to the existing processes for the project management, etc.
To start the creation, it is necessary to define the level one, ie the main result of the project.
Then gradually add as many details as possible. From the second level you will descend to the smaller pieces up to the third level, to the fourth level, and more, if necessary.
It is important to always define what is required in the previous level in the most detailed way possible before moving on to the next levels. It will be essential to further break down the work.
Here is a brief structure that can be useful for writing a WBS:
Determine and describe the project result;
Highlight all the necessary phases of the project;
Divide the final results into manageable tasks;
Assign each section and make sure that each owner, ie the corresponding team member, has all the information, skills and knowledge necessary to complete the job.
Ensure frequent feedback. The WBS is a dynamic document, whose content can be revisited, even frequently, to ensure the correct execution and delivery of the project.
In conclusion, the creation of a Work Breakdown Structure is a team effort and is the point of arrival of multiple inputs and perspectives for the given project.
Its goal is to make a large project more manageable.
The deconstruction into smaller blocks means that work can be done simultaneously by different team members. This will lead to better productivity and easier management of the project in general.
Have you ever created a WBS structure for your project? What tools and methods did you use?